They had no answer for Tyson Degenhart.
The first-team all Greater Spokane League sophomore scored 25 points – 16 in a dominant first half – and second-seeded Mt. Spokane (22-1) overwhelmed seventh-seeded Prairie (17-8) 71-52 in a state 3A regional round game at University HS on Friday.
JT Smith scored 17 points with five 3-pointers and Jerry Twenge added 12 for the Wildcats.
Mt. Spokane advances to a state second-round game on Thursday at the Tacoma Dome, while Prairie faces a first-round loser-out game on Wednesday.
The Falcons, who finished second in the 3A Greater St. Helens league, were led by Kameron Osborn with 21 points. The senior passed Dan Dickau as Prairie’s all-time leading scorer earlier this season.
Mt. Spokane led 41-20 at intermission.
“We played so hard in that first half,” Wildcats coach David Wagenblast said. “That was the hardest we’ve played all year. We were really efficient and tough and very focused as I’ve seen us be all year. And because of that we were tough to stop tonight.”
Degenhart was a little more descriptive.
“We just wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth and show that we’re as good a team in the state and we can compete with anybody.”
Smith and Twenge both hit early 3s, then the Wildcats went inside four straight possessions with Degenhart and Mt. Spokane led 23-14 after one.
“Prairie’s a very good team and we came out with the right mindset of attacking really early in the game,” Degenhart said.
“I think this shows we can run with anyone,” Twenge said. “(Prairie) being from Seattle, they hang with teams in Seattle pretty well so we came out and blitzed them like that.”
Senior Tanner Brooks – headed to Idaho in the fall to play football – had nine points with 14 rebounds.
“He has no quit,” Wagenblast said of Brooks. “He’s a Division I football player. That was a tough matchup for them because he was just everywhere.”
“He’s an animal.” Twenge added. “He’s just relentless and never gives up a board.”
“Our team is super unselfish,” Degenhart said. “We get it in the middle with Tanner and he just finds the open guy and makes a lot of plays like that.”
Smith scored the first five points of the second quarter and Degenhart got three more baskets inside as part of a 14-2 run. Mt. Spokane outscored Prairie 18-6 in the period and led 41-20 at intermission.
A 23-7 run in the third put Mt. Spokane up 64-27 entering the fourth quarter and the Wildcats starters sat the first four minutes of that frame.
Wagenblast didn’t want to provide any locker room motivation, but defended his squad.
“I’m not a social media guy, but I was told by several people how Prairie was on a roll,” Wagenblast said. “Well, you know, we haven’t lost since the first of December.
“I think we’re going to be a team that people on the west side of the state are going to look at and think ‘I need to go check out that team.’ ”